Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lessons

Posted by Simon Halliday | Monday, November 21, 2005 | Category: | 0 comments

Something which I have been thinking about...

Need 21.11.05


Although you crave

being needed, I am

not good at it, this

inborn independence


does not do you justice

your devotion and application

to me, and I feel inept

in my immediate attempts


at being within and for

you. But you see, if nothing

else, that is why I need you

the most, to teach me


this art, the structure of need.

My errant nature inimically

untied and blown by every

which-way breeze of intellect


calls out against the breath of

you teaching me need. You are

so necessary, your love so

required for this. Lest my


ambling soul lose all

vulnerability, lose all chance

at freely being helped. It has

always been me who has been


needed. It is time for my

change, hurting though I may be

before the glimpses of it.

You are that much to me.



Sunday, November 13, 2005

Morning Murmurs

Posted by Simon Halliday | Sunday, November 13, 2005 | Category: | 0 comments

So yes, I should be working as I have that silly research report due on Wednesday. Truth be told it's not at all silly, but it does mean that when EVERYONE else is on vacation and one of my dearest friends is arriving back from NZ I am going to be working. Tragic! So here I am procrastinating. Anyway, enjoy the poetry some of it's ok, some of it's atrocious (as it should be, even Keats wrote badly, just see some of the lines of Ode to Psyche). Love y'all. Si


Stray 25.10.05


Though I have cleaned

and washed my sheets

strands of your hair

are still caught in


my pillows. I have

an intent, it seems,

to maintain some

connection to you


even though it may

be unrequited. Upon

finding a hair I am

bound by it to memories


to some conjure or

voodoo of yours:

that set of smiles

followed by anything but


if only it was in me

to hate finding a lost

strand. Instead they inspire

my irrationality and


confirm what I dare

not voice.


Bikes 25.10.05


You remember me as

small blond and

clutching tightly to

your back my


unhelmeted hair

all-over-blown by

the wind of our riding

but I have sped


past that boy on the

back of a motorcycle,

although you still

glance over your shoulder


at him


Let free 27.10.05


If I am uncaged

it does not mean

that I am free

nor do I suddenly

understand my own

imprisonment


iron-black-grey

existence: reality cut

up by criss cross

bars patchwork

prison living

black around colour


What does 28.10.05


to last

mean?


Would it make me

the final raindrop

on your face in

a storm,


or would I

be the eternity

of my fossil

memory in you


etched in sand

and skin: indelible.


Deep, could I be

that deep that

I am the last

part of you to


ever go, but still

so slow as to

be the endpoint

of forever.


Ice Dream: 30.10.05


although the heat

here devastates

my body


dreaming inspires

paradox

why would i


feel snow falling

upon my sleeping

face and on


what earth should

i be walking on

ice the cracking


of which disturbs

my wakefulness

it is the mirror


of it that in which

i find myself

a cold reflection


to my heat and

intuit this orphean

journey is


because of you

your capturing of

my reflected self


Scrivener 30.10.05


Bearing the names of tombs

into scripture, the Word that

must be heard by each and

every living soul for their


Redemption. I do not begrudge

you your charge. Nor do I

presume judgment upon your

holy quest. But I do question it.


Though I recall the psalmist

it is not in that which I place

my faith, but in your ability to

replicate and in replicating


change all that has been placed

before you. The Word is that potent

that all-driving. I cannot help but

think that maybe I do the same.


Krsna's Fluting 30.10.05


Would that playing for you

was this easy, that I was not

simply a reflection of some

poetic intent. The statues of


me playing should remind

you of your playfulness, but

instead they result in Faith

and Dedication and Claims


that Ganesha would have it so.

Worship in inaction. Joy and

the act of creating Joy would

be all that I demand.


You would rather Worship

than listen to my Music and such

is the loss of Faith, that music is

no longer Joy but pervasive Duty.



On Rach 03.10.05


A man sits, tied

to a desk and tortured

by an inability to move

despite it's necessity


these notes clamber over

him as a bout of insanity

but his fingers too cold to

feel the keys


this is the post-partum

depression of composition

the moment after the birth

of writing in which


the world is suddenly smaller

your hands more wrinkled

and the sunlight less able

to heat your skin


see him there his hands so

tightly cold and his body

dying of deprivation but

he must write



Cat 03.10.05


you walk in here

twitching tail

arrogant, as I

begin to sneeze


you continue

on unannounced:

a malcontent

describing their way


around that which

troubles them.

(or simply being that

which troubles me)


Lalage 03.10.05

G. lalageo the sound of a babbling brook


I thought it

the sound of laughter

carried to me by wind

a normal shriek and


pulse, but there

was an undercurrent -

a sob birthing itself

out of the laughter


I should not confuse such

things with you.


We spoke of it later: I'd

heard you as you burnt


imprints of flowers

on your skin disguising

seared, cut flesh from

those who would look


although I am looking,

eternally observing in the

hope of catching some of

the ash, perhaps it will give me


a taste of you.


Recidivist 03.10.05


This habit is something

into which I easily hope

to relapse


the comfortable warmth

in holding your hand

on a couch


I have been warned against

it, too many women who

later hurt me


who burn their past intents into

my soul, while I attempt to

walk gaily on


in blissful attempts at normality

and the ignorance that would

pervade me


if I could recidive to that state

but that is not easy, nor is it

confirmed addiction


unlike you who call me onward

and inwards with the final

temptation


[of suffering]



151 11.11.2005


There is your hand

pushing downwards

I am the plunged

coffee of this


pressed down, guided

and immediately

distilled into

some purer form


Although I do

believe that I

would retain

a granular consistency


Stubborn, even in

my own change



Marmorate 12.11.05


We are the thick-veined

marble pillars in support

of some levitant

Greek ideal


can you not see us?

Here about some

Dionysean fucking-rite

praise and more praise


to wine and sex. That

harshness fueling the

blood of these stone veins

pumping grey and cold


into these we so religiously

support. If only they deigned

to see us, perhaps they would

marvel at their own


ignorance.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

I was SOOO busy last night

Posted by Simon Halliday | Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Category: | 1 comments

A tapestry of shoes 23.10.05


The structure of

completion

is a frayed collection

of threads


and it is the frays

where severances

hurt and where

they retie newborn


offshoots of hemp,

roughed off

of their own accord

but tied tighter


than old shoelaces

burnt with selotape

and holding together

rubber and the soul -


i am molded to

you in this old shoe way

scared of discard

or tempted by it


Polemic 23.10.05


it is the fuck-with-you

way with complete disregard

for anything I say or do

that says it


if this were a record of

samples, with a hip-hop

beat sliding between

them, it would yet


crave meaning, But

these words, these

linked-tight hardfast

daft yet credible


Words are what make

this, This believable

and all i do is stand

in a red t-shirt


banner in hand with

a hoarse voice and

a look of (hurt by lack of

remorse) incredulity


that changes nothing,

no thousand words

in a photo, but

a thousand unloosed


tongues with no more

voice than a woman before

Herod and even more

screaming babies dying


as i wear a red t-shirt

(it wasn't red before)

and a banner limp

(with tears repressed)


if only the wind would

shriek to steal the air

that rips from their

throats the dirge of the dead


the speedbumps are

graves as i walk, unflowered

and graveled and potholed

for the lack of digable


soil to cover up the lost


Road 23.10.05


I would be gracious

were I yet prepared to

thank you


but that is the

dark backroad that

betweens us


left open to wound

down windows

and heart-blown


kisses goodnight

(I'd rather not it's

easier to fight)


Carving tree 23.10.05


I can still see green in

the moonlight of

oak leaves


shrouding the moon

painting pointed patterns

over memories


they are sharp aren't

they when you pick

them up


enough to make an

acorn worth planting

for my intents

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Philosophy of Economic Policy Making (or 'Work Avoidance on a Saturday Afternoon)

Posted by Simon Halliday | Saturday, October 22, 2005 | Category: | 0 comments

Subsequent to having studied a course in Policy Analysis in my Honours year of Economics and now having completed a development style course in Masters, something has become horribly apparent to me. This problem is that people pre-judge the discipline of Economics because of its idealism. Not only is this 'sin' committed by policy-makers external to Economics and by politicians attempting to derogate the discipline, but also members within the discipline itself.

What makes this doubly frustrating is that Economists have to sell their models and their methodologies to government in order to create some kind of actionable change in policy or in the economy itself. However, if Economists themselves cannot agree on what is necessary in order to have a decent Economic model, then this is more than problematic. When I talk about this dispute I am not referring to the mundane nature of the New Keynesian-New Classicist debate, but rather an approach to statistics and economics combined.

Now, every economist who reaches a high enough level of competence and study inevitably encounters the problems with assessing whether a program or intervention works or not. In order for us to know whether an economic or policy intervention works, we need to be able to answer a counterfactual question: How would those who were in the presence of said intervention have fared were they not treated or in the presence of the intervention? Or equally, how would those who were not in the treated group have fared were they treated? If we cannot answer these counterfactual questions then the whole point of applying policy in the first place is irrelevant. The reason for this is that policy is meant to enact positive change, change that will help the economy and that will provide for people in an optimal way. Moreover, it is meant to do so in the most cost effective way. If a policy is rolled out to the entire population, but it is ineffective then spending the money in the first place was inane and a poor choice when there are so many opportunity costs to poorly spent resources.

Now, the methodology of Randomised Evaluation1 is easily understood by Econometricians and by Statisticians. However, policy makers in attempting to address specific population groups and constituents often ignore both statistics and econometrics in favour of attempting to look as though they have done something when in reality nothing has changed. This is all to reminiscent of the Peron style policies of giving people pots and pans to make them like you, but these pots and pans DO NOTHING to help these people in reality.

Where the problem lies for Economists is that people often don't like 'The Truth'. When I talk about 'The Truth' in this context, I refer to statistics or qualitative statements which provide us with some reflection of what occurs in reality, rather than some peoples rhetoric about 'poverty alleviation' or 'employing the unemployed'. These themselves are worthy goals, but claiming that a project or a policy will do one of these things is inaccurate when we have no way of measuring if a change occurred.2

This is where the problem arises, both within Economics and with those who attempt to deride it. Two main problems that people have with such statistical practices are as follows: 1) it's unfair, and 2) it (randomised evaluation) is ivory tower intellectualism that doesn't work in the real world. I will deal with both statements.


As far as the first is concerned, this is a drastic misrepresentation of what Randomised Evaluation is and does. A randomised evaluation attempts to find two very similar groups, intervene in one with some treatment (say an extra teacher in a classroom, food provision or some such) and compare this treated group against the similar group which remained untreated. This is often performed on a fairly small (depending on your interpretations) scale, for example looking at 20 schools: 10 of which get the intervention and 10 of which do not.

Now, if we need to roll out a program to enhance school quality, BUT we are unsure of how to do this just reading what other people have done and claiming that 'This is what is good for 'our country' does not actually tell us if it is. In order for it 'to be good for our country' it should fulfill some criteria – test scores should improve, attendance should increase, numeracy and literacy levels should improve. However, the only way we can know if they have improved at all is if there is some basis for comparison. If we expend money without knowing whether a program will do anything, then how is that at all fair? As far as a utilitarian argument progresses, welfare has not been improved by any measurable outcome, but large amounts of money have been spent, resulting in an overall decrease in welfare (same people, less money).

If a small pilot project is run with some people getting the intervention and some not, then we can know whether it works. However, people then claim that on the ground if we have two households one receiving a treatment and one not, then the one not receiving the treatment believes that it is being prejudiced against. Notwithstanding the myopia of individual consumers who could voice frustration at not receiving some patronage, the individual unfairness is overridden by social benefit. Hence, again using a utilitarian argument, the overall utility is improved because of us knowing what programs to run and what the impacts are regardless of a small number of peoples' discontent. Contemporary society is riddled with personal injustices which are for the overall benefit, to take a few examples: progressive tax rates are individually unfair on the rich – they give away money for which they have some claim because of work, but this is taken away from them in the name of a greater good, equally so with government intervention in a number of other spheres: government providing free water to the poor (or providing a market for water to the rich), government re-modeling education structures so that they are more equitable and less competitive. Individually, this irks people and people find it individually unfair. However, they are intended to provide for a greater good. People then re-frame the questions as a one of poor vs. poor. 'How can you tell one poor person that you are going to employ their equally poor neighbour, but not them?' Government does this all the time anyway when it initiates public works programs, or when there are programs by international bodies as part of disaster relief or some such. This means that there must be some other motivation – the 'fairness' argument does not stand up to scrutiny. In fact I believe that it comes down to the second point which is the attack on 'ivory tower intellectualism'.

The problem with this second point is that it is predominantly a normative or perspective-based debate. Almost inevitably it remains as a post-modern attack on Statistics and Economics which I foreshadowed earlier with my comments on 'Truth'. People (myself included), often like to believe that they are individuals, that they cannot be described by observable characteristics and that they (because they are special) do not fall into any stereotypical roles or cultural boxes. The problem with this is that it ignores a host of economic, psychological, sociological and anthropological evidence to the contrary. As much as we would like to believe that our free will can and should override any genetic or social imperatives, it often does not. People DO fit into general and describable categories. This is where statistics and econometrics are useful because they DO REFLECT REALITY. Granted this reality is not in an individual or unique sense, but as far as most people are concerned providing them a situation in which they can begin to have food, family and something more than just subsistence living is good.

This then begs the question of where this attack is directed? This is a far more controversial question. My belief is that it is pointed at the perceived elitism of the intellectuals, i.e. people who are intelligent are obviously out to get everyone who isn't. This can possibly also be seen as a misinterpretation of Marx, who wanted equal provision for people but without preferential treatment based on capability. So the problem here is that people perceive that intelligent people are rich people and that rich people abuse poor people. Therefore Academics (in their ivory tower institutions and intellectualism) are out to get the poor. This is a drastic misrepresentation of many academics' intentions. In fact the causation underlying this, possibly generally held, misperception is horribly flawed. It is actually the reverse – the appreciation of an intent to find truth from rhetoric is the intent of the academic. Hence the academic is trying to distill reality to find the constituent truthful parts. This can only be done in a situation where it is not being undermined by rhetoric or by the polemics of politicians whose own interests may be undermined by the 'truth' that is found through a rigorous statistical analysis.

In conclusion, it has been argued (possibly overly vociferously) that the attack on statistically rigorous processes such as Randomised Evaluations is actually based on a normative position, which is inevitably based on the self-interest of the politicians (and maybe other economists whose findings may be undermined) as a result of it. Sadly, it seems as though economists who are striving to find 'truth' are in the minority, or if this quest is their initial intention they become bogged down by political rhetoric and doublespeak which undermines that which they try to achieve. This leads me to my last appeal, that of a belief or at least an acceptance of the hopeful ideal situation of good econometric and statistical analysis in an ideal world, if economists begin to continuously excuse the rhetoric which undermines their work, then their work will suffer. In order for good econometric work to continue to be done in the future we cannot bow down to the intentions of too many self-interested individuals who target a polemic of elitism at those who are, in reality, trying to find new and innovative ways of solving problems of unemployment, poverty and welfare. It should be noted that this is not an attack on government as a body, but rather at individuals who may believe that government and academia are incompatible because of cursorily observed superficial differences, this is not the case. The intentions of government and a host of academics are those presented above – without by in and collaboration from both the possibility of brilliant solutions fades.


1See for example Duflo and Kremer (2003) or Duflo (2003) for explanations of RE.

2This does open me up to many of the problems with the hermeneutics and ontological arguments of what constitutes 'Truth', but in this context I believe that this conceptualisation of 'Truth' is sufficient. I am not about to get all European and post-modern on the discipline of Economics.

Personal Prevarications

Posted by Simon Halliday | | Category: | 0 comments

On the noted need to write more... Here are some more for your personal delictations.


The Journey of Jonah 29.08.05


I see these odd water

creatures flowing

about me, this place

where I should be not.


This containment seems

inescapable, damaging

me, my claustrophobia

tightening in.


But muscles move about

me, thrusting me away

from these acids and

half-rotten bodies;


and yet this place is familiar

clearer, but as filled with a

foreign world of many-legged

animals and bulbous eyes


as that in which I was lost.

People I missed, but the places

where I was not, they made

me believe all the more.



Barbarian invasions 09.09.05


Of the struggling social

event, much has been

written, considering that

we disregard convention


I would not put is past

us to attempt to resist

its degeneration, they

would prefer our resignation


these visitors. Instead we

wage our own offence

we attack with our own

wanton lusts and bloody


frustrations. The wine glasses

shudder in hand noticing a

subversive twist in conversation,

hair seems out of place,


you and I marshal our wills

to this, our last movement

the battle of a lifetime lost on

the fields of our consciousness.

Driven 17.09.05


That the moon

embedded in this

low sky is meaningful

charges me.


Its corona would

be a mirror to halo

my existence, forming

still that which


is nascent, burgeons

beneath the skins that

have and will cover

me, sun-caught protections


and the moon's memory

of that all the stronger.


Crestfallen 17.09.05


wave movements onto

and beyond the sand

along the crest of the wave

moves my conscience


disturbed by its own

spaces, by its intents.

Unsure whether it moves

or whether its position


is stable and the world

moves beneath it. My

inertia. My inability to

move is such, and no matter


my efforts I remain densely

unable to change.



dark night 17.09.05


bark scratched my back

as did your fingers pulling

me closer in, demanding

that i see and be inside you


but not – remaining out with

the wind-driven grass and

the wind's crooning voice

lulling us into a suspended


belief, holding us apart for

that extra moment and knowing,

knowing how passing it was

our whispered intents left


in the dark soils, burgeoning

still, some reciprocal growth

there i observe its movement

and envision its plural paths


overcast 22.09.05


there is a pall of skin

over the smoke of

your eyes locking

out the visions

that hold you to me


i am that solid, that

connected, that held

down and wept image

you need to see, but

dare not for fear


of admittance, i am a

recasting of sin, i am a

doubting of self, i am a

foil to all that once would

have made you laugh


but i am transient, the clouds

of me may move slowly

but move they do and by god

you will return pale and screaming

and wrapped in the caul


of a newborn child, waxy

and dim you will see through

these casts over you and there

the joyous cries of your

release will be that free


139. 23.09.05


Hearing your voice is

looking through old glass

the image distorted

the sound a shimmer

of what I thought

it would be


Moses' lost time 26.09.05


I had traveled hard

sandals tight against my

feet, scratching the sand

of this path, I strike


this staff into the ground

in attempts to hold

myself up, I am not so

young that this is easy.


But beneath me, their

prayers convey urgency

the lost ones no longer

trusting me but sacrificing


their souls to unknown idols.

Would that I were so easily

viewed, so easily pleased,

but He requires more than


blood and milk. I trudge on

and, having borne the weight

of these tablets, know that much

will change and I am bound


to suffer.


Rapturous Escape 01.10.05


There is pathology

in the depth of my

investment in you


each time I have seen

your red-rubbed eyes

and your tangled hair


I wish it were me you

had been crying over

instead I spectate, I


support from the

sidelines joyously

crying your escape


from his fawning

hands yet unable

to touch you


my grasp:

one more to

hold you back



Life Support

to nana


there are opaque tubes

replacing your veins

pumping blood

and breath that

you cannot


these are gene imprinted

images on me

appearing every time

when I would rather think

of you:


with your feet like

gnarled roots planted

in the sand soaking

up the salt and water

nourishing you


instead I see the blood

the beeping green and your

face whiter than the sand had

ever been. your roots are gone

you cannot live without them.


if I could only purge myself

of these memories


feeling in reverse 06.10.05


this movement out of

love with you, if it could

have been the first I felt

and built up to

all with which we

had begun


late night rains 08.10.05


still inside

i sensed the acridness

of rain smudged tarmac


awoken to it from this

bed, enraptured by single

strands of your hair


its allure called me

from my entanglement

coarse bricks cool my


feet as i step outside seeing

how right the rain was

and how the moon's


descent was its hallowed

accompaniment, suddenly

here your hair calls me


so immediate my return to its

broken embrace restraining

myself unheeding of


the rankness without





Imbibed 14.10.05


If only you were

intoxication,

I would recover

from you.


But there

is no awakening

from this

drunkenness


my head cannot clear,

you are each and

every movement of

my eyes


my steps sway because

you have taken away

any semblance of

balance


and what scares me

more is that i would rather

it didn't end, that it

remains irrecoverable


my control, my logic

and my overriding

ability to judge, gone

because of this


Freedoms 15.10.05


What is liberty?

What is unconstrained?

What is this rejection

that you refuse to claim?


You wave your hands

in mock severity

claiming damage and

in-love-ness


how is it that this

prevents your liberty

how is it that I shackle

you? Except by my


presence, which you find

pervasive. If only that were

all I could be every part

of you burned by some of me


no I do not brand you, and

yes I do still care, but do

not fuck with me darling

you'll lose me, that I swear.


Giving 15.10.05


This is not forgivable

these foggy words that

you offer me in an attempt

at appeasement


they cannot suffice and

I will not succumb. Do not

linger here, rather leave me

and be done with this.


I will not bear you. I

will not kiss. I will not

hold you or offer my love.

I gave and you rejected.


I will give no more.


Margaret Atwood's Cat 16.10.05

For Laura


is neither at its beginning

or its ending

but slips between the

words of her poetry

as it would between her

legs as she sits in

front of a desk

altogether crafting


it would be a reverent

moment spent lying

on laps or over

feet that immediately

have so much and so

little to do with writing

but on the body of a woman

maybe my pawprints


would mean more



Peter, oh Peter 16.10.05


My Redemption was a

finger's breadth away

but it was easier to deny

You, to deny Me as the

case would have it be. And


so I crouched down and

wept as the cock crowed

its assassination of my faith.

Hoping I wept for you I realised I

did not. With that acceptance


faith burgeoned within me again.

Against all sin, against all love,

against any proclamation or the

spears ripping into the bread of

your body it was reborn and


I along with it. Momentarily I

was transfixed and knew You

loved me, that momentous joy

and its legacy hearken this voice

and all the lies that have bound it.


Shameful Allure 18.10.05


Crept up the dangers

of my soul you did

as though they were

lures to your hurt,


but you've seen them for

what they are – dislocated

sections of me that

weren't dangerous at all


rather they were the links

between peace and

soulfulness a calm

amidst the havoc that


is my mind. And all you

wanted was the peace

all you wanted was the joy

and an admission


that love would remain

without yours. My

inertia, the bellowing

breath of my time-fixed body


was not enough. There

was no chaos on my tongue

nor danger in my soul. You have

placed them there: in thrall


to my angers.


the sunlit edges 18.10.05 (night of 16.10.05)


of women drive

sanity from me in

one out-breath


your waking shivers

insulting the heat

to action


looking on

each edge is

an experience -


I savour the

sunlight's scent

streams of dust


moted sun alight

on your half-open

slept eyes




Friday, September 09, 2005

Cunning Contumelious Compositions

Posted by Simon Halliday | Friday, September 09, 2005 | Category: | 3 comments

It's almost been two months since I updated this. I had a few complaints about the delay. Sorry guys, I've been lecturing and concentrating on other things. Nonetheless, here they all are some of them in their glory and others in their mundanity, but still all about the joy I derive from writing.

73. 28.07.05

I don’t speak ‘You’.
I have not been trained from
an early enough age,
the intonations of it
are strange, more than foreign,
beyond the grasp of most
interesting patois.

It is an alien cuneiform
that makes ‘You’ up
unreadable and (equally)
unwriteable for this
novice.

I lament my inability to
Learn, but notice that
this lack is what draws you
to me
in my primeval incomprehension
lies that which has been
dormant in you

learning ‘Me’ is what you’d
rather do.


79. 28.07.05

echoing voices
a patina of browns and whites
overheard colours
escaping from our speech

a fallen autumn oak leaf on
bright snow


83. 30.07.05

It is a tragic paradox
that claims the academic
we are, by nature, sceptical –
the doubting,

the process and upholding
of the existence of
truth, yet seeking
and advocating some

profound science. The claim
of its non-Art astounds
and the absurdity of it
doubly resounds within my head

that again is our nature.
And how sad that in
the Pursuit of truth we can
never acknowledge its existence.


opaque clarity 30.07.05

labyrinthine – twisting turning
no centre blaring
these emotions, these calculated
non-reactions to

that which you shot
into me, a flare of
information its bursting
impact clean

but a gory legacy.
This body stands
hands clutched tight
around a holed abdomen

shrouded with pale
lights and far too raucous
noises, these are the echoes,
these are the sounds

of my pain, and the heritage
of my distrust


scraped 30.07.05

push me into the wrinkles of
my own skin
further than I’ve went
yet still closer than I would
have expected

fist tight clenching
frust(fast)tration
at this

this is not
wood of my grain
direction crashing
straight-skew

fuckit scream KGAA
(feel the phlegm mounted
in your palate)
angular yet
unlessly rounded


Ménage a moi 30.07.05

ça sera chaque moi(s)
chaque type de nous
mais si on pense a nos
petit Victoires de Pyrrhos
ils ne serons jamais avec
des pensées ‘belle’
ou ‘jolie’

moi, je pense a l’odeur du
sang, mon sang :
le notre
et il tombe
continuellement
sur ça

le cœur de notre
sans la beauté
c’est navrante

des mots en sang
dans un lis
du neige

sous laquelle
du brun


A Lifetime 03.08.05

Were I to die
I would prefer it be
bloody.

Possibly a stabbing, or
something equally
penetrative

I want my guts wrenched
out, pulled to the floor
visible

The experience necessarily
sensual, a culmination in
violence

A silent or painless death
would not become my
complexity

Pain, and its sudden end,
would be far more
memorable


The Man of the House 03.08.05

“My dear Sir, please Correct me if I’m wrong
But I can no longer view your Courage
As the symbol of something strong”

And there the death of the Gentleman goes
In a delighted critique
By its bellicose foes

“And maybe I should enlighten you too,
Why Loyalty should die similarly,
While I cry out Honour’s poor doom.”

And thus High Nobility falls apart
So laughed and jeered at
By those without heart

“This Code that they live by, strange vanity:
A self-righteous plague by Disciplined boys -
These men of so-called Quality.”

Long may they rue it, their call down on us
The few who remain
Those who you can trust.


Such prayers 03.08.05

A votive for ugliness:
that which would have
me love it, but which
I could so easily deny

I wish momentarily you were ugly
that seeing you wrapped around
me, while I bury myself in you
could disgust me

Your hair trailing its
path over my skin
and the pebbled
softness of you cheeks

They make disgust
the furthest thing
from my limited mind
falling to me to

lament limitations
corrupted by
your beauty to
revel in my agency’s

execution, it
is only here where
I am no longer I
here where pale-hairy

me meets this soil of you –
planting myself
in you would be
the glory of all past and

present seeds,
but its denial,
its denial
makes us all the more

one and another,
of this latent strength
and the palpable
irrelevance of power

latched and fallen,
grossly tumbling keys
slotted yet traced out
beyond this blend of us


clean 03.08.05

friction – the heat of
my fingertips, their pull on
your skin, oil-rapture
high scent of you

odour of sharp
deserts my feet slipping
into the sands of the dunes
this your body



89. 03.08.05

the languor of you
lying atop me

the perch and outspread
wings of a possessive
falcon


Libertine 04.08.05

I would you were not
constrained
by history
the hysteresis of each
scarring act

I see him above you
a fury and you lost
freedom in those moments
slowly and by degrees
yet inevitable

Now, this is your way
of regaining that lost
and I rail against the
reality of it, against its
injustice

I had seen us dancing
barefoot and tightly-pressed
sunlight and cobble stones
but you require manifest
freedom


97. 04.08.05

freedom as skin
is too constraining
too full of passed
images – past

these lines of ice on
my skin, deep crevasses
of meaning, white moles
buried throughout me

closeted (up) not (free)
yet wanted, desirous of
everything out there, now out
all I wanted was in

skin once boundaried me
plugged me tightly into
this time held on, held
regularly stopping beating

freedom me alone without
you, you, You, but love
god love in all and falling
but falling is lawbound

“I cannot deal with the dishonesty
Of it, but will myself to be constrained
And finally, admittedly, free”.


101. 07.08.05

Conscious of a hearkening
of a process that is
becoming

archaic, words unused
relevant in
translation

from this idea in
me to gift you with
understanding

vowels creeping around
the tails of harder sounds
written

words are unsound
their presence some
ostentatious

attempt at immortality,
Me, I would rather be
mutable


103. 07.08.05

It is my hope
that we are not Victims
of Circumstance
that our coming together
is not predetermined

Chance is elaborate
and that we could
give in to its insistence
means much more
than Pre-destinations


107. 18.08.05

caught in the midst
of some words
hemmed in on
all sides by logic
and grammar and
concord and every
single agreement

these walls of words
of construction permeate
and in their permeation
imprison

i would i were
rather lost than
caught between
by language
and none


109. 27.08.05

Do we have to have
a reason? When has
reasonableness ever
entered into such games?

It is not that my movements
are untrue, or that they could be
dishonest, it is simply that
they are insufficient.

Perfection is useless unless it
achieves something, but your
wants do not coincide with mine.
My perfection shines still

ebullient in these grey environs
voices echo off of it unchallenged,
unscrupulous in their attempts to
undermine it's glory.

They will not have their way.


113. 27.08.05

you are blurred
so close to me

you are water-laden clouds
choking out rain
hurting my eyes
with your agitation

the lack of distance between
us disorients me

the sky and earth are no
longer polar, they blend and
I am lost in their forlorn
attempts to join

lips tightly brush my forehead
and eyelids, firm adieux

since God is not here and
neither do I wish to bother Him
with my tithes, I wonder whether
it is time for polarity once more


this fire we lit 27.08.05

cinders floating on
thermals - the hawks
of my thoughts my
disposition

but burnt ashes are
flightless
there joyous airplay:
simulacra

dreadful in their
sincere attempts to
portray that which
they are not


Kali's frustration 28.08.05

i have impaled myself
upon your death
my several arms
flailing for control

these, my fangs, more
dangerous to me than
you, and, as always, I
am dark and it is

the blood on my skin
imperceptible, but the
sacrifices to me, the flowing
of them compensate

I do not cry, my evil self,
my female essence denies
its will to cry, it and I will not
that would betray the faith

yours and mine


The Journey of Jonah 29.08.05

I see these odd water
creatures flowing
about me, this place
where I should be not.

This containment seems
inescapable, damaging
me, my claustrophobia
tightening in.

But muscles move about
me, thrusting me away
from these acids and
half-rotten bodies;

and yet this place is familiar
clearer, but as filled with a
foreign world of many-legged
animals and bulbous eyes

as that in which I was lost.
People I missed, but the places
where I was not, they made
me believe all the more.


Integrals 29.08.05
“Girl, you'll be a woman soon”

To what end do I
remain constant,
do I maintain some
semblance of consistency?

These 'virtues' seem damned
by a pledge against
their requirement, by some
dislocation from their need.

Although arrogant, I do
not claim to understand
nor be aware of all that
plagues you. But I am

disturbed. By your
fickle nature, by your
mercurial insistence
the euphemism of

what you become, the
clouds and water of
too long a winter. I
am the furrows that remain.


Interchange 30.08.05

I am these winter gutters
of Cape Town
at once overflowing
at once overlaid with
the throwaways:

pallid brown leaves
clog my flow, the discarded
skins of oranges a sharp
orange against my
moribund greys.

The waters flowing
over me are as impure
as any thought I
may've once conceived
making me at once

immediately imperfect
at once bared beautiful.
My flooding is the temptation,
the clarity held by the discarded's
shared allegiance.

127. 16.08.05

I am resistant
the tautness
of my skin

pushing out
urging the tension
within me

to explode
but its containment
is paramount

shored up between
Me and I, the external
and internal

intensity of
this gamble

131. 16.08.05

kestrel
sharp-winged
flght

(hands) together
clap clashing
sharp-height

that glimpsed air-speck
was once me
against a backdrop
of fertile clouds

the sun struggles to
get through, but its
cutting glory
makes (right) sense

presence, this
feathered me
flying around and unsure
of where I should (if
I could) land

ultimata 27.08.05

Would I were a man
of ultimatums.

Is it at all possible that they
would change the present
if any future?

What action would it
require from me? A final
romantic action?

Evidence would suggest
I should rather damage these
women, maybe that would
result in their devotion.

It seems to have done so
for others.


we worked 21.08.05

with large loud drillbits have I eaten into these walls
i still feel the vibrations in my fingers, in the
muscles of the palms of my hands

we tried to tie handkerchiefs over our mouths
the dust had been getting into them
into our clothes and noses

my awkward attempts to hold them
while i breathed, while the bricks fell about
me in that vicious rhythm

i was not listening well, my hearing was
damaged by those days of demolition
i feel the tinnitus return on a whim

challenging me to break down the walls that
are here once more, it was odd to be so much
stronger than you, but its predictability

was the more damaging, that i worked for
longer, that you were sad when I would work no
longer, tired as I was of the dust and cement

137. 17.08.05

this is where i
start,

(vision)

regretted on a
dark table

maybe this
is it, the place
where i begin

(image)

sunlight falling
your breathing
placing me
white sheets and us

(gestures)

fingers interlocked
(chain(ge)ing us)

hands mussing my hair
(dis-connect re-connect)

(perhaps not)

i cannot find a
beginning i am
a mess of moments

N'Orlans 05.09.05

There was once a mountain
and above it circled the
whitest dove in
existence

It had rained so long,
had stormed so mercilessly
that we had come to
question

But retain faith we did.
It is strange how I wish
that now there were a mountain,
that it had rained for 40 nights

that would make it all the
better. Instead it took one night
to destroy all I had... built?
But I am not allowed to

question the intent of God. Instead
I parade myself on the flat roof
of this flooded building searching
for a whitest dove and an

olive branch to grant me
salvation. If only it were that
easy. I await the vrrt-vrrt of an
easier rescue.

Namaqualand Flowers 05.09.05
“We do not love white women... We kill them.”[1]

This is a rite by which I assert
my authority. I am the king,
the ruler, by this blood ritual
you will come to accept me.

Bearing a number grants me
power, access to all you would
have denied me. Outside the
world exists, in here it is ruled.

But kingship has its costs, although
I am no Hamlet I yet see blood
soaking my prison-issue clothing
even though I was not wearing these

then. My butter knife seems sharper
somehow larger, and about me is
scattered the gore of my leadership.
It is not difficult. That which I had

once denied has come and closed
its wretched claws around my heart.
They have had their vengeance, they
have called me out, called my number.

[1]Doggy Dog, member of the Flower Gang, as recounted in the testimony of Laston Chavulla.